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Report: Luton 2-3 Wycombe

24 March 2015

Wanderers secured a memorable victory over promotion rivals Luton Town live on Sky Sports.

All the goals came in the first half as Sam Saunders cracked home an opener inside two minutes before Elliot Lee levelled matters moments later.

Paul Hayes' penalty put the Blues back in front and Alfie Mawson converted a stylish third goal before Lee reduced the deficit again before the break, and the visiting defence held on for an important victory in their pursuit of promotion.

Gareth Ainsworth kept faith with the same side which had drawn 2-2 with Accrington seven days earlier, although Hogan Ephraim and Matt McClure returned from illness and suspension respectively to take their places on the bench.

As for the Hatters, they reverted to a 3-5-2 formation after a poor run of form which meant starts for Fraser Franks in defence and veteran striker Paul Benson, who made his first start after a long lay-off through injury.

And following the news that on loan Brentford pair Nico Yennaris and Sam Saunders had extended their deals until the end of the season, it was Saunders who gave the visitors a dream start with a goal inside two minutes.

Joe Jacobson’s teasing corner was headed into the winger’s path and his left-footed strike took a deflection into the net to send the travelling fans into raptures.

But the Hatters rallied and earned their equaliser within five minutes, just as they had done in the reverse fixture in December, and it was a lapse in concentration in the Wycombe  defence which proved costly.

A quickly taken corner released Luke Guttridge inside the box and his fierce low shot was parried by Matt Ingram into the path of West Ham loanee Elliot Lee, who tucked home from close range.

Town looked to be in the ascendancy, although their keeper Elliot Justham needed to get down smartly to keep out Joe Jacobson’s free-kick, and Benson caused panic on 17 minutes with a low cross which flashed across the face of goal but there were no team-mates in position to convert.

But then Wanderers restored their lead when Sam Saunders threaded a neat pass into the area and Matt Bloomfield was tripped as he took a touch past the defender, and Paul Hayes made no mistake in placing the penalty past the keeper.

And then came a moment of magic which would have graced any level of football, courtesy of centre-back Alfie Mawson. The youngster danced out of defence with the ball, exchanged a one-two with Paul Hayes on the edge of the box and lashed the ball into the bottom corner without breaking stride, prompting looks of disbelief from the home fans and scenes of jubilant celebration in the away end.

But Luton dug deep and clawed their way back into the game when a deep cross from the left was kept alive by Michael Harriman, who nodded it back into the danger zone and Elliot Lee smashed home his second of the game with only 38 minutes on the clock.

A frantic first half came to an end with no further goals but Luton made a change at the break, replacing Fraser Franks with Matt Robinson, and the game continued at the same high tempo, with Paul Hayes shooting straight at the keeper after nice link-up play with Fred Onyedinma.

Then Luke Wilkinson headed wide from a deep corner at the other end before Sam Wood drilled just wide from Paul Hayes’ cross, and then Gareth Ainsworth made his first change of the night by bringing on Aaron Holloway in attack at the expense of Onyedinma.

The game grew tense and the chances dried up, but you always sensed there could be more goals to come. Matt Robinson and Luke Wilkinson missed the target with efforts from dangerous deliveries into the box, before Sam Wood’s powerful drive whistled over the bar after Luke Wilkinson failed to clear 20 yards out.

Nathan Oduwa then forced a fingertip save from Matt Ingram from a difficult angle as the game approached stoppage time, but the Blues held firm for an 11th away league win this season to restore the four-point gap above the play-offs.

Wycombe: Ingram, Yennaris, Jacobson, Mawson, Pierre, Saunders, Bloomfield, Bean, Wood, Hayes (Craig 90), Onyedinma (Holloway 66).

Unused subs: Lynch, Rowe, Murphy, Ephraim, McClure.

Luton: Justham, Franks (Robinson 45), McNulty, Wilkinson, Harriman, Howells, McGeehan (Oduwa 77), Guttridge, Drury, Benson, Lee (Cullen 79).

Unused subs: King, Lacey, Lawless, Stockley.

Referee: Mr D Coote

Attendance: 8,379 (555 from Wycombe)

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